DIY: Rose Beads

By Alexa Silverberg

Want to make beautiful beads made from roses?
The Rose Bead Group with the Potomac Unit of the HerbSociety of America leads workshops to show how to create beautiful jewelry from roses. These hands-on demonstrations are led by Mary Lou Winder, the Chairperson of the Rose Bead Group.
Here are Winder’s 10 steps to help you make beautiful rose beads at home
1. First, you will need a lot of rose petals! A cup of dried petals will yield 3-6 beads, so keep that in mind when considering how big you will want your piece of jewelry.  Another important thing to remember, all plant parts other than petals must be carefully removed to ensure a smooth bead.
2. Step two, dry the petals. It is important to dry the petals completely, otherwise you risk mold growing.
3. Next, freeze the petals for at least three days to kill any insects.
4. Then, put the petals in a pot, add water to cover, and simmer slowly for several hours until the petals are very, very soft.
5. Next, put the cooked petals, little by little, in a blender. Puree them thoroughly with enough liquid (cooking liquid or water) to make a finely ground, smooth concoction.
6. Put this mix into an iron pot and set it over very low heat.  Use a “flame tamer” to keep it from scorching. Cook it slowly, stirring periodically and scraping down the sides, until the moisture evaporates and you have a thick mash that is now black from the chemical reaction with the iron in the pot.
7. Repeat, adding water to the thickened mash and grinding it again in the blender, then cooking it slowly until you again have a thick mash. Blot with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
8. Add a small quantity of rose oil to the mash. Winder uses rose fragrance oil.
9. When the mash is ready, measure it out in rounded half teaspoons. Roll in the palms of your hands, dabbing slightly with water if need be to remove all cracks. Gently roll the round, smooth bead between 2-ridged wooden butter paddles to give a bit of texture.
10. Lastly, spear the bead on a wire and set aside to dry over the next several days. Beads must be turned on the wire daily while they dry to keep them from cementing themselves to the wire. They will shrink substantially! Once they are dry and hard, remove the beads from the wires and let them dry a few days more. Now, you can string them as you would any other bead, in combination with other purchased beads, to make necklaces.
The rose bead group offers workshops every month. In addition, they sell their rose jewelry locally and online. For more information, contact Mary Lou Winder at [email protected].

About the Author: Alexa Silverberg is a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland and is from Short Hills, NJ. She is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener Magazine this spring semester.

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